I went to see the new WWII movie Inglourious Basterds the other night and like anything by Quentin Tarantino, I enjoyed it. It brings out my inner butch or something. Such a production of subtle details, emotional camera angles and music that is meant to manipulate your every sense. I tend to over see the blood and violence finding it more of a piece of art then a shock my system. Hopefully that's normal.
Films that take place before the 1960's always provoke a renewed pride in etiquette and it's importance in day to day life. I tend to find myself disenchanted with the way things are now and how what we all need is a good refresher class in manners.
It's more then manners though, it's more then etiquette, decorum or knowing which fork goes where and when to use it. It's consideration, respect and the desire to treat people well. Perhaps I am starting to sound like a rambly old man shaking my cane at the world as I talk about this and how way back when pay phones (yes, remember those? public phones on street corners that were used by everyone not just the drug dealers.) were just $0.25.
True, it's fun to be swept off my feet by a man who knows how to order for me or who lends me his arm as I teeter down the street in my strappy high heels (even though I do know well how to walk in them, it's nice to have that added support on the uneven cement.) but who am I kidding, there are very few men who actually display these qualities. Most don't like to touch when out in public for fear of public displays of affection might render their manhood. Honestly though, that entirely just comes down to wanting to have your needs considered.
Even now as I pull these thoughts through my mind I find that I am coming up with a change of perceptive. Initially I scorned the 60's and the 70's for their free spirit and revolution, that with all the head way that was created came the demise of social elegance. I don't think that's accurate though. True, life has become somewhat more casual on a day to day base. Fashion has evolved to be less formal. Things don't take as much of an effort as they once did (think of written correspondence or even getting lucky on a Friday night.) and there isn't the ridgety that was such a staple in the stereotypical early 1950's. But do you think that with that also came the lack of please and thank-yous? Currently we have the potential to have the best of both worlds.
A few months ago I wrote a small little post about please & thank you and the importance of it to me. With some further thought towards the subject I've found out just how important social grace is. That not being able to define for yourself when it is a good time or it is a bad time to burp at the table (I'm sorry, I couldn't think of a better example. It's because I'm sipping on a Root Beer as I write this) is somewhat unattractive. I'm not saying don't ever burp, I'm as immature as the next 6 year old and sometimes drinking soda with my friend and burping each others name is something I want to do for giggles however I always take in consideration of my surrounds and who might be offended about my actions.
I think that is what might be missing more then anything; consideration and empathy for other people and respect for their experience. Often I find that we (the general "we") can get caught up in what is best for ourselves and forget to look around and see that there are other people in this world who are effected by our actions. That even though I expect to be treated with respect and dignitary it's important that I treat others the same way. Genuinely. I also have the option now, to ask for this respect myself. To reach out and say "would you mind if I took your arm as we walk down the street?" because thankfully, to be a verbally forward woman isn't frowned down upon as much as it once was (thank you woman liberation for that one!).
I know, this is scattered- it's because I have a lot of beliefs in this subject and I am trying to keep it somewhat short and light (doesn't look like I'm trying that hard). So, teach your children manners- show them the foundations of social grace. Be aware yourself of your own tendencies and operations of the mind. Recognise the positive in others and be gracious for what they do for you. Receive openly, without expectation and always say thank you in one way or another. Oh and please try not to fart in bed.
it would also be in poor form if I didn't give credit to Google Images for allowing me to borrow thier images.